Turkey denies reports alleging deportation of Syrian refugees

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Syrian refugees arrive at the Oncupinar crossing gate, close to the town of Kilis, south central Turkey, in order to cross to Syria for the Eid al-Adha Muslim holiday, on August 28, 2017. Turkish authorities allow Syrian refugees to visit their country for Eid-Al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice) celebrities. / AFP PHOTO / BULENT KILIC

Abdullah Ayaz, who heads the Turkish Interior Ministry’s migration management department, has denied reports about the deportation of some Syrians from Turkey, saying that such an act would be legally impossible, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

“Due to the current situation in Syria, it is legally impossible to make a decision concerning the deportation of Syrians. We are now sending unregistered Syrians to refugee camps. After their registration in camps, we are ensuring their transfer to various cities as part of a plan,” said Ayaz.

In recent weeks Turkish media have reported that some Syrian refugees in the country are being deported even if they are registered. These Syrians are allegedly being forced sign a document saying they are leaving Turkey of their own accord.

In a move that unsettled Syrian refugees, the İstanbul Governor’s Office on July 22 directed Syrians who are not registered in İstanbul to leave the city by Aug. 20 and return to the cities where they registered and gained temporary protection status.

The governor’s office said those who do not leave İstanbul by Aug. 20 will be sent back to the cities of their registration in line with an order from the Interior Ministry.

Ayaz said the governor’s office’s move is aimed at reducing the population density in İstanbul, which is the country’s most heavily populated city with its 16 million residents.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government is said to have tightened its policy on Syrian refugees following its loss of İstanbul in the mayoral election held last month to an opposition candidate. Many say the public’s unease with the Syrian refugees is one of the reasons for the AKP’s election loss in İstanbul and some other major cities.

More than 3.5 million Syrians have taken refuge in Turkey due to an ongoing civil war in the country that began in 2011. These Syrians have been granted temporary protection status in Turkey.

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